Sep 19, 2007

Taiwan: Mine Ban Commitment Strengthened

Taiwan has reiterated its commitment to the purge of landmines through meetings with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)

Taiwan has reiterated its commitment to the purge of landmines through meetings with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and public statements by the government and opposition parties alike.

Below are extracts from an article published by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines:

During an August 2007 visit by ICBL ambassador, Mr. Tun Channareth and ICBL Advisory Board member, Sister Denise Coghlan, Taiwan’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Yang Tzu-pao, and separately, the opposition KMT Presidential Candidate party, Mr. Ma Ying-jeou, signed a declaration prepared by representatives of the Taiwan CBL which promises to support a total ban on the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of antipersonnel landmines; to actively seek international support to facilitate clearance of all domestic landmines within the deadline set by the 2006 Antipersonnel Landmines Regulation Act; and to support global landmine victim assistance programs.

Mr. Tun and Sr. Coghlan were in Taiwan to attend the special programs organized by Eden Social Welfare Foundation celebrating the Foundation’s 10th anniversary of international participation in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Taiwan is not a universally recognized state, which has prohibited formal accession to the Mine Ban Treaty. In 2006, Taiwan passed an Antipersonnel Landmines Regulations Act. The Act prohibits the production and trade of antipersonnel landmines, prescribes the clearance of landmines within seven years with the possibility of extension, and compensation for landmine victims (or their family members). The Act, however, falls short of the key requirements of a Ban, does not require the destruction of stockpiles and grants the military the right to use antipersonnel mines “when it is imperative during war”.

When receiving ICBL delegates, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Yang said, “Humanitarian matters supersede all political affairs, therefore a bureaucracy like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to support the mine ban campaign and underline Taiwan’s unceasing support for the global mine ban campaign as well as Taiwan’s anti-war, peace-loving determination.”

The 2008 opposition KMT presidential candidate, Mr. Ma Ying-jeou met separately with the ICBL delegates, and stated, “If I am elected President, I will urge the military to clear minefields and never to plant new mines. I believe landmines are obsolete weapons and should not be used any longer.” “We believe both sides across the strait do not wish to go to war but to have peace and prosperity,” he continued. He expressed his support to the Mine Ban Treaty, said he would seek to endorse the treaty once elected president, and signed the Declaration prepared by the Taiwan CBL.

Sr. Denise Coghlan said at the Foreign Ministry: “Taiwan has shown its determination to comply with the Mine Ban Treaty as it has passed domestic regulation on landmines last year. However, the next step Taiwan should take is to destroy all its stockpiles and ban the use of landmines in war, to show its moral support to the Mine Ban treaty.” She also encouraged Taiwan to participate in the new international efforts to ban cluster munitions.

Impressed by Taiwan’s effort in promoting the rights of people with disabilities, she said, “Taiwan is an example to many countries in advancing the welfare of people with disabilities, regardless the fact Taiwan cannot accede to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Despite this, the Taiwan government is one of the leading governments in compensating landmine victims,” she concluded.

In a press conference held on 28 August [2007], Mr. Tun Channareth shared his own story as a mine survivor and his work as an ambassador of ICBL. “I joined the mine ban campaign because I do not want my six kids to be hurt by landmines,” he said. He urged the Taiwanese government to fully comply with the Mine Ban Treaty provisions and to provide more funding to mine clearance and global victim assistance programs.